The University of Virginia today announced a $4 million challenge grant from alumnus John Griffin for the establishment of a new scholarship program to benefit incoming undergraduate students with exceptional promise and significant financial need. The grant is conditional upon a match from other donors, with the goal of raising a total of $8 million.
“These scholarships will help make the University more attractive to high-achieving students with significant financial need,” said Griffin, a 1985 graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce. His gift will both launch the new “Blue Ridge Scholarships” and fuel growth of U.Va.’s endowment for financial aid.
The challenge grant underscores the importance of the University’s policy of offering admission to students with no consideration of their financial situations. U.Va. stands virtually alone as a public university practicing “need-blind” admission.
“The University of Virginia is proud of its commitment to ensure access for excellent students without consideration of their financial backgrounds, and of our commitment to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need for undergraduates,” President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “This new scholarship money will bolster the efforts we have launched to make a college education possible for more students with high financial need. I am grateful for the empowering philanthropic support of our alumni, especially John Griffin.”
Pending matching gifts, the first $1 million of Griffin’s grant will benefit incoming students to U.Va.’s Class of 2018 with outstanding academics and demonstrated financial need. The grant will provide $500,000 annually for four years in scholarship support.
Griffin’s challenge also bolsters U.Va.’s overall commitment to the long-term success and sustainability of its nationally recognized aid program, AccessUVa.
“AccessUVa already provides significant grant aid. It’s one of the country’s strongest programs,” Dean of Admission Greg Roberts said. “The Blue Ridge Scholarships will provide the University with important support to use in our recruitment of the most promising students who also have great financial need.”
The next $3 million of the Griffin gift is a challenge grant designed to help grow the financial aid endowment, a top University fundraising priority. Over time, a growing endowment will help ensure that the AccessUVa program is placed on the most sustainable long-term path.
U.Va. seeks to magnify the role of philanthropy at a time when state and federal funding sources are declining or flat. The University currently provides more financial aid and assists more students with financial needs than at any time in its history. Its institutional commitment to student financial aid has increased from $11 million a decade ago to more than $40 million in the current academic year.
Griffin is president of New York-based Blue Ridge Capital, an investment partnership he founded in 1996. He currently serves as a member of the U.Va. Board of Visitors.
“I am happy to contribute to the University’s goal of building philanthropic support for financial aid,” he said. “The University community benefits greatly from having an economically diverse student body, and these scholarships will help attract the best students with the highest financial need.”
February 3, 2014